Sepia - Season Opener

Monday, September 21, 2009

Owner Emmanuel Nony, Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman



by Ethel Gofen, Dame de la Chaîne

Many new members joined eager Chicago Chaîne diners and special guests from Charlotte, North Carolina and Manitoba, Canada for the opening dinner of the 2009-10 season at two-year-old Sepia in a newly chic neighborhood on Jefferson Street. Four hors d’oeuvres of duck “Reuben”, confit potato with caviar and crème fraîche, sardines with scallion and avocado purée and olive oil jam, and a blood sausage croquette were passed as guests were introduced to the wonderful Chaîne Cocktail “La Charente” created especially for us from Le Compte 5yr Calvados, apple butter, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice and Brut cider.

Bailli Jane Tracy introduced Emmanuel Nony, Sepia’s distinguished Restaurateur, and Scott Tyree, its Wine Director, after which Emmanuel Nony proposed the toast welcoming members and their guests to his warm, nurturing dining spaces.  Once home to an 1890 print shop, Sepia’s rooms are now adorned with ornate Murano crystal chandeliers encased in translucent silver shades in a stunning blend of classic and contemporary styling.

With celebratory music in the background, a torchon of foie gras served with petite rosemary-poached pears and vanilla brioche strips soon arrived, paired with Tokay Pinot Gris, Hugel et Fils “Hugel” SGN 1989. Next, moist and tender wild Alaskan halibut with couscous and ratatouille—-“the last bite of summer”—-brought forth our Puligny-Montrachet, Domaine Liger-Belair Sous Le Puits Reserve 1er Cru 2005. This excellent crisp wine with its long finish was served again with the warm salad of poached, then grilled lamb’s tongue accompanied by Mississippi Silver Hull beans, bacon and wilted arugula.

We compared the white with the now-poured Juliénas, Michel Tête Domaine du Clos du Fief 2007. As we debated the merits of the white versus the red wine with this dish, the Gunthorp Farms rabbit loin stuffed with sausage and served with caramelized fennel and Iroquois white corn polenta led us onward to try its match, the Ribera del Duero, Hijos de Antonio Barceló Viña Mayor Reserva 1995. The true and delicious flavors of pristine locally-raised produce and robustly flavored meats were a grand tribute to artisanal farmers and to Chicago’s own Green City Market.

A highlight of this sumptuous fall menu was the Chimay Ale braised short rib of beef with spice bread spätzle and red cabbage. Cornas, Jean-Luc Colombo “Les Ruchets” 1991, from a producer known for his organic techniques, was the choice to stand up to this hearty dish.  The finale of figs poached in red wine and stuffed with whipped Camembert served alongside a thyme and almond financier was perfectly matched with a tawny Port, Barão de Villar Colheita 1977.

Vice-Conseiller Culinaire David Danielson gave the food commentary, while Chevalier Michael Belsley discussed the wines.  Bailli Jane Tracy and Vice-Chancelier Argentier Simeon Roldan introduced Chef Andrew Zimmerman, who then introduced his staff to loud applause for their creativity and ability to delight our tastebuds with this beautiful procession of elegantly-served dishes.

We then sang Happy Birthday to both Jane and Roger Tracy.  Our Châine plaque and plate were presented to Emmanuel Nony as we welcomed him as a rejoining member.  What a perfect birthday celebration for our past and present Baillis, and how fortunate we were to be part of this glamorous celebration!


We will open our fall 2009 season with an extraordinary dinner exploring the creations of Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman. We can look forward to a series of unique dishes that do not appear on Sepia’s current menu and which will incorporate the freshest seasonal ingredients from the Green City Market. Chef Zimmerman is an innate artist composing his dishes with the complexity of notes of music on a page. His background spans restaurants and hotels of national and international repute, illustrating accomplishment with steady calm.

Emmanuel Nony, Restaurateur and Owner, will welcome us to his beautiful vintage-chic restaurant that is evocative of another epoch, and one of Chicago’s highly sought after dining destinations. A warm and welcoming dining atmosphere is presented with an energetic, present- day contemporary flair. His industry experience is deep, ranging from the Park Hyatt Tokyo to Park Hyatt Chicago before creating Sepia - which means we can be prepared to sit back and enjoy his attention to detail.

There will be surprises! A “Chaine Cocktail” is being exclusively fashioned for the evening’s pleasure by Sepia’s master mixologist. There will be glamour reminiscent of vibrant, feel-good times, and the soft, unobtrusive sounds of saxophone in the background by Chicago saxophonist Terry Higgins.

Join us for this very special evening of food and wine pairings that will propel us forward into a memorable beginning of our Fall Season